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The “Ups and Downs” of Our Salvation Story


“Pray, pray much, and sacrifice for sinners, for many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and sacrifice for them.”

Today the Catholic Church celebrates not one but two very important events, one in which Jesus ascends upwards to the Heavens to assume His seat at the right hand of God the Father, while in the other our Blessed Mother Mary comes down from the Heavenly Kingdom, over which she resides as Queen, to the small and impoverished village of Fatima, Portugal in what is probably her most famous Apparition.

The great Saint Therese of Lisieux, upon traveling to Paris with her father and being shown and becoming fascinated with a new invention known as the elevator, would in later years reflect upon the notion of an Elevator to Heaven. On this particular day in the Catholic Church, this heavenly elevator is getting plenty of action, both up and down.

The Ascension is a remarkable event in our Salvation history. 40 days after Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead he would be taken up into Heaven This ethereal moment is captured in the early verses of the opening Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles (1:1-11), wherein the Apostles are left dumbfounded as two men in white garments suddenly appear explaining to them that Jesus would one day return to them in similar fashion Pastor and Theologian John Piper said of the Ascension of Jesus that it “Not only certifies that a satisfactory atonement has been made, but it also inaugurates the eternal intercessory work of Christ, and thus guarantees that we will always have saving and sympathetic (Hebrews 4:15) access to the Father forever.”

Yet in some respects the Ascension would appear to be something of a neglected doctrine. It’s not even recognized as a holy day of obligation anymore. But without the Ascension, Jesus could not have taken his seat at the right hand of the Father. Without the Ascension, the Holy Spirit would not have been poured out upon the Apostles a mere 10 days later And without the Ascension, Jesus could not come again in his glory .

Perhaps we have a tendency to forget that Jesus is still every bit the priest, prophet and king here on earth in the year 2021 that he has been in Heaven since the year 33 AD. Or that Heaven constantly penetrates our reality here on Earth, most especially during the celebration of the Mass As author David Mathis puts it, “The Ascension reminds us that Christianity is not only an historical faith, but a faith of the present and future. Jesus is, right now, in glorified humanity on the throne of the universe, wielding as the God-man “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). He is not just our suffering servant who came and died and rose triumphant, but our actively ruling, actively conquering king.”

Jesus ascends to Heaven so that we can one day share in his glory. So that God the Father can send the Spirit into our souls, allowing us to participate in this great divine promise and one day be with him in a “little while”

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At his triumphant Second Coming, God will be in all for all. In the meantime, the faithful are emboldened by two promises, the first chosen as today’s Gospel Acclamation wherein Jesus declares “I will not leave you orphans. I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.” (John 14:18) while the second comes to us in the closing words of our Gospel as Jesus proclaims “You will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” (John 16:20).

As previously mentioned, today also marks the 104th Anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s First Apparition in Fatima, Portugal. Appearing “more brilliant than the sun,” Our Lady announced to Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, God’s divine will to establish devotion to Her Immaculate Heart in the world. “To whomever embraces this devotion,” She added, “I promise salvation. These souls will be cherished by God, as flowers placed by Me to adorn His Throne.”

Over the course of Mary’s apparitions, which took place during the height of the First World War, Our Lady announced God’s promise that when the incomparable merits of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are solemnly invoked by the Church by way of the Consecration of Russia and the promulgation of the Reparatory Devotion of the Five First Saturdays, God will relent from punishing the enormous sins of the world and instead grace the world with conversion and peace. In fact the quote that kicks off today’s Reflection was drawn from Our Lady’s message to Lucia, Jacinto and Francisco.

These three children changed the world. They were the visionaries of the Blessed Mother, who go on to appear to them over a period of time, entrusting to them 3 “secrets” which they pledged and kept secret, this despite the threat of harm to their parents and even imprisonment. They were soldiers for Christ, suffering for their faith while sacrificing their very reputations. In doing so, they became examples of holiness beyond reproach while exposing the world to the ugliness of socialism, communism, and corruption. But they also showed us the beauty of compassion and forgiveness as well as the awesome power of God, as witnessed most famously in The Miracle of the Sun. This miracle was viewed by thousands of people.

The message of Fatima remains every but as critical today as it did 104 years ago. We must pray and fast with one accord for those in most dire need of repentance, conversion and transformation, for our Lady makes it very clear; their eternal fate lies, in part, in our hands. We must pray the Rosary every day Those who do so will not perish. This too is a promise from the Blessed Virgin Mary, of whom Saint Bonaventure said "Men do not fear a powerful hostile army as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary."

We must draw hope from Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven while heeding the sobering message of Fatima, all the while drawing hope from this message as well. For nestled within the fabric of Fatima’s message contains this truth as it relates to the battle between good and evil: Our Lady has already crushed the serpent’s head.” As Christ’s Mystical body, we must now do our part.

“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.” ~ Amen

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us....

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us....

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